Why Devoted Health

Ed Park
6 min readOct 16, 2018

Yesterday was launch day at Devoted Health as we began to enroll the first members into our Medicare Advantage plan in eight counties across Florida. We also welcomed new investors who, along with prior investors, have provided us with $300 million in new capital to help Devoted deliver on our mission: to dramatically improve health care for American seniors by caring for every member literally like family.

What would we build for our own family?

Caring for everyone like they are family is our entire reason for being. The prime directive that everyone at Devoted follows is very simple: when doing anything, when making any decision — in particular, the hard decisions — we close our eyes, imagine the face of a family member we love desperately, our mom, our dad, our brother, our grandmother, and ask ourselves, what decision would we make if that decision impacted her or him? We then open our eyes, and proceed to do what we would do for our own family.

And what kind of health care would we want for our own family? We would want the best health care in the world. Not health care that is average, or hopefully not terrible — no, we’d want our family, like everyone would, to get THE best health care in the world. People sometimes get this kind of care. Many of us know of doctors and nurses who have given us or one of our loved ones compassionate, focused care. But my 20 years of experience working in the health care system confirm what many of us already know: that, sadly, the overall patient experience is all too often a broken, confusing mess.

The status quo patient experience: uncoordinated, fragmented, and reactive

It’s not that we have doctors and nurses who don’t know what to do; American doctors are, in fact, the world’s very best, and as any doctor will tell you, the nurses are even better. It’s also not because people’s hearts aren’t in the right place; nearly everyone I’ve met in health care is motivated by the mission to help people.

The problem is the fact that the system itself is fundamentally not designed in a patient-centric way. People are stuck ping-ponging among an assortment of well-meaning primary care doctors, specialists, hospitals, and other facilities, resulting in a patient experience that is highly uncoordinated, fragmented, and reactive, compounded by administrative hassles that seem to emerge from every corner. There is nothing more frustrating than witnessing a loved one go through such an experience — one fraught with missed connections, information gaps, confusion, huge anxiety, and all too often, the right care not being delivered at the right time. Care that could have prevented illness and complications. Care that could have saved a life. We need better. Our loved ones deserve better.

How did this situation come to be?

A central driver is that American health care payors (government and private insurers) have historically paid for health care on a “fee-for-service” basis: paying per doctor visit, per test, per surgery, per hospitalization. It’s a payment system that rewards volume of piecemeal services delivered, as opposed to rewarding and financially supporting holistic, coordinated, proactive care that keeps people healthy. Primary care gets especially short shrift, along with things not traditionally seen as “health care” — like social support, coaching, nutrition, exercise, and other “non-medical” services — that have a massive impact on people’s health outcomes.

What happens as a result? Simply put, the results aren’t good: more days in the hospital, avoidable illnesses, and, most tragically, avoidable deaths. The economic costs are also enormous in the form of higher medical bills for patients and out-of-control health care spending for the entire country. And the emotional toll on patients, families, and their doctors and care professionals is overwhelming.

A new model of health care: a tech-enabled “payvidor”

Looking at all of this, my brother Todd and I decided to start with a blank sheet of paper. And what we realized is that what’s needed is a new model of health care: one that has the mission of taking care of everyone like they are literally family, providing them consistently and dependably with the right care (including more than just clinical care) in the right place at the right time, the best care in the world — without needless hassle and with warmth, compassion, and love.

That’s why we started Devoted Health: to build a health care solution that we want to have care for our own mom and dad and everyone’s mom and dad. The right design for such a solution turns out to be what we call a “payvidor” — a service that integrates being both a payor and provider of health care. In this, we are a payor who is responsible for the full cost of our members’ care through the Medicare Advantage program — and we partner with top health care providers in ways that empower them to deliver the best possible care to our members. We also are ourselves a provider who will deliver a set of care services that wrap around the existing health care system — services such as dedicated Devoted health guides to help members navigate the complexities of the health care system and a Devoted house-call medical group for those in the greatest need who can benefit from care given to them at home.

The logistics and coordination required to build a truly patient-centered experience are tall orders to fill, which is why we also decided to build a unified consumer-grade technology platform from scratch to support our mission. Crucially, we are building our system to not only support what we already know we need to do, but also with the inherent flexibility and power to add all of the things we know we will discover are terrific ideas to implement as we relentlessly pursue the cause of ever better patient care. Our goal is to iterate our platform at 100x the speed of legacy health care software, which will enable us to rapidly evolve to ever better serve the needs of our members.

Committed for the long haul

Ultimately, our mission is, again, a simple one: to treat every member like we would our own family, providing every person with the highest-quality, most compassionate care possible — the care we would want for our own parents.

To make this a reality, we have assembled a wonderful team with deep experience across health care and tech. We have the capital we need to power our work on behalf of our members. And we are passionately committed to work on this cause for decades so that we can have a lasting impact on millions of people and their families across the country.

Working at Devoted Health will be the last job my brother Todd and I plan to have. We are in this for the long haul. If you want to help create and deliver solutions that will literally save lives, if you want to make a lasting difference through the work you do, and if you are excited about our mission, come join us!